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Review: Short Vowel Phonics

Some children understand reading easily and quickly.  Others struggle, needing a lot of support.  Inevitably, parents of struggling readers look for helpful resources, but it?s surprising how little is available for those who truly need help.  To fill this gap, Patricia J. Norton, a physician, mother of a struggling reader, and reading tutor created the Short Vowel Phonics Series.

The Short Vowel Phonics Series consists of 6 books, carefully graded and designed to help, not overwhelm, new and struggling readers.  These little books progress from single vowel stories with a minimum of sight words to real world stories containing compound words. 


Each book contains approximately 30 to 60 pages of engaging stories focusing on  specific phonics concepts such as ?short a? words, words with the consonant digraphs ?ch, sh, th, wh,? or ?double consonants and ?ing? words.?  The Tables of Contents detail exactly which phonics concepts and sight words are included in each story, and also give the word count.  ?Notes to Parents and Teachers? include everything from advice on reading the titles to background information about factual stories such as ?A Hen Hutch? and ?The Land of the Czechs.? 

The stories themselves are as interesting as the phonics allow.  Rather than focusing only on fiction and whimsical tales, Patricia has included a handful of factual stories, even using maps and diagrams.  This is unusual in beginning readers and will surely appeal to all those children who prefer fact over fiction.  

What makes this series so helpful is that the first three books concentrate on stories with only one vowel sound.  So if your child knows the consonants, the short ?a? sound, and the sight words ?a,? ?has,? ?is,? and ?the,? he or she can read several stories concentrating on the short ?a? sound.  The same goes for any short vowel sound.  Blends are introduced in level 2, and other new concepts can be read on the front covers of the books in the pictures above.

Careful attention to detail is designed to help the struggling reader.  For example, the font used to print the stories has a ?g? and an ?a? that look like the one the child learns to print, rather than the ones typically used in published material.  Illustrations have been designed and placed to minimize guessing at the meanings of words. 

My Thoughts

None of our five children have been early readers, but that does not really matter when one homeschools.  After all, homeschoolers can usually allow a child to wait until he or she is ready to read.  Even with this relaxed attitude, though, I have had some moments of frustration and panic about reading.  In fact, I have even resorted to making my own little phonetic readers with and for my children.  While that is a good exercise, it?s a bit intimidating when home-made books are the only option.

We would have been thrilled to have the Short Vowel Phonics Series when our children were learning to read.  I?m sure these books would have made our homeschool journey easier and more enjoyable.  In fact, the last two books were still helpful to Miss 8 two months ago. 

I think that the Short Vowel Phonics Series can be a real help to children who struggle with reading.  Do check out the website if your child is having a difficult time learning to read.  You just might find the help you need.   

To Purchase

The 6 volumes of the Short Vowel Phonics Series are available here in various formats. 

Disclosure:  I received a set of Short Vowel Phonics readers from  Patricia Norton in order to prepare this review.  I am not compensated for my reviews and the opinions expressed are my own.

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